An Adventure About to Unfold

Originally posted September 17, 2009 ¬ 10:44 AM on previous web server

Breathless, Unbelievable, Awesome …

“En. Nordin, your booking is confirmed. The reference number is ABCXYZ. Please quote this number when you come to our ticketing office to collect your ticket by 25 September…”

I had just booked myself a Malaysia Airlines seat from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney, Australia, and a seat for the return journey from Perth to Kuala Lumpur. sounded easy, but it was not as straight forward as that.

I had to make two phone calls to the airline. During the first call I was informed that for the first leg of the journey, Kuala Lumpur-Sydney, all Economy seats were already sold out. Only Business and First Class were still available. Blast ! That poured very cold water to my plans. I could not afford other than Economy on the 5-star airline, could I ?

Five minutes later, I called the airline again. I got connected to another, more pleasant agent. This time I managed to inform her my whole itinerary.

Then she informed me, “En Nordin, for the Kuala Lumpur-Sydney sector I will put you on waiting list, and for the Perth-Kuala Lumpur sector, it can be confirmed”.

Hmmm. That was much better. My plans might yet be realized then ..

“For the waiting list, what is the chance of success ?”


“When would I know the outcome ?”

“Call us again in 3-4 days’ time.”

No good. That would be in the middle of Hari Raya (Eid celebrations marking the end of Ramadan fasting month). I could not picture myself on the phone handling the suspense while others in the family were having a good time celebrating Hari Raya.

And more importantly, that would not give me confidence to make commitment for the other part of my plan. If I made the commitment now and it turned out in 3-4 days’ time that my seat to Sydney was not available, then I would have lost nearly a thousand Australian dollars.

“What about Business Class ?”

“Yes, sir. Still available.”

Decision. A quick one. Come on.

“OK. Put me on Business from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney. And Economy from Perth to Kuala Lumpur.”

In the phone line I heard taps of the computer keyboard.

“Done. For the KL-Sydney sector would you like a window seat?”

“That’d be good.”

“Upper deck or lower deck ?”

I had almost forgotten that this flight would be a Boeing 747-400 with a stretched upper deck. And during my company’s better days several years ago I always favored one deck.

“Upper deck.”

“OK. And for the Perth-KL leg, shall I put you on a window seat as well ?”

“Yes, and put me on the right side of the cabin, near the emergency exit where there’d be bigger leg room.”

“Done. En Nordin, here are your flight details ….”

And she went on the read me the dates, times and flight numbers, which I noted down.

“En. Nordin, your booking is confirmed. The reference number is ABCXYZ. Please quote this number when you come to our ticketing office to collect your ticket by 26 September…”

“Thank you..”

I put down the phone, and turned to my notebook PC. The website was still displayed on the LCD. I clicked on the Booking tab, typed in some details, and was immensely and surprisingly pleased that I would not be paying the near-thousand Australian dollars after all…

You might be wondering by now, what are all the fuss about ? What are the plans that I mentioned above ?

This is it.

It’s a 4-day 3-night’s train journey of a lifetime on the legendary Indian Pacific, traversing the Australian continent from the Pacific Ocean coast in Sydney to the Indian Ocean coast in Perth. A distance of over 4,300 km. And going to Perth would be like returning home, after all the years that I had lived there during my younger days. More on Perth later. For now, let’s drum up the excitement….

And here’s the map of the journey. Click to see more details.

The journey from Sydney to Perth would be roughly equivalent in distance from Miami to Los Angeles …

And here are what past travelers on Indian Pacific said :

Will keep you updated ….

Selamat Hari Raya (Happy Eid).

Next: Across Australia in 4 Days – Part 1: Before the Journey

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